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Lady Bearcats sneak out big AEast road win over Vermont

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BURLINGTON, Vt. – Sophomore guard Imani Watkins poured in a game-high 23 points, leading Binghamton (8-10, 3-2 AE) to a 57-53 win over Vermont (6-13, 1-5 AE) in an America East women's basketball game on Thursday night at Patrick Gymnasium. The victory is the Bearcats' third in their past four games, all of which have come against conference opponents.

Binghamton has now exceeded its win total in conference games from all of last season. It has also won back-to-back road games for the first time this season.

Watkins was one of three Bearcat players to reach double figures in scoring. Sophomore forward Alyssa James added 16 points, seven rebounds and a game-high five blocks while freshman guard McKayla Hernandez finished with a career-high 10 points.

The Bearcats had a tough night shooting as they finished just 29 percent from the field (15-of-52). They made up for it, however, at the free throw line, converting 22 of their 26 attempts (84.6 percent).

"I thought our kids played very hard tonight," head coach Linda Cimino said. "It was an up and down battle. We did some things well but we also did some things I wasn't happy about. But at the end of the game, we took care of the ball, played good defense and made our free throws."

Watkins had the key basket of the game, swishing a three pointer with 18 seconds remaining to give Binghamton a 55-53 lead. Vermont turned the ball over on the ensuing possession and senior guard Kim Albrecht iced the game by nailing a pair of free throws with nine seconds to go.

In addition to reaching the 20-point mark for the eighth time this season, Watkins finished the game with five rebounds, five assists and three steals. She was also a perfect 6-for-6 from the free throw line.

James registered her fifth game of the season with at least five blocks. She is now averaging 3.2 blocks per game, which continues to lead the America East.

Hernandez, meanwhile, made both of her three-point field goal attempts to record the first double-figure scoring game of her career. Her final three-point field goal of the night broke a 35-35 tie with 48 seconds left in the third period.

Vermont cut the Bearcat lead to 38-37 at the end of the third period. From there, the two teams were deadlocked four different times in the fourth period and the score was tied at 50-50 with 1:47 left in regulation.

Albrecht sank a pair of free throws with 1:11 left, putting the Bearcats up 52-50. Sydney Smith, however, nailed a three-point field goal with 43 seconds remaining, putting Vermont on top 53-52. That set the stage for Watkins' heroics.

Andreana Thomas led Vermont with 19 points. Smith added 13 points while Katie Lavelle chipped in 10 points.

Binghamton heads to UMass Lowell on Sunday for an 11 a.m. game. The start time was moved up an hour from the original noon tip-off time.

NOTES: Binghamton has now gone four games without allowing an opponent to score at least 60 points. The Bearcats have allowed an average of just 52.3 points per game during that stretch.

(Courtesy: BU Athletics)
(Video Courtesy: BU Athletics)